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Stratum plus. 2005-2009. №3

T. M. Kuznetsova (Moscow, Russia)

Chronology of Scythian Presence in the Near East (by Herodotus’ Account)

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Pages: 308-328

The research is based on the data Herodotus’ “Histories” provide. The historian had received his information from the North Pontic region; he describes the “divine signs” pointing to the end of the Scythian supremacy in Asia, and Darius’ expedition against the Scythians (Hrd. IV, 119). The Scythians regarded solar eclipses of 608, 585, and 509 BC as the signs sent down from the divine intent. These data are considered chronographically reliable, and no other calculations have been suggested for the events. In the suggested scheme solar eclipse of 608 BC is considered as a chronological reference point. It marks the end of the war between Media and Lydia, and separates the events related to “the rebel Scythians” and “the Scythians of King Madyas”, as Herodotus takes it (Hrd. I, 73, 74).
The author suggests a higher chronology of the events of the Scythian history: the presented scheme is 4 years higher, nevertheless, the author does not aim at revising the whole chronological sequence. Thus, the fall of Nineveh in the modern chronology is usually dated back to 612 BC, while the author suggests 608 BC as the date for this event. This date of the fall of Nineveh and dethroning of Astyages by Cyrus (546 BC) are established proceeding from cuneiform texts, and the obtained dates coincide with those provided by the Alexandria chronographers, who used different events as chronological reference points.
The suggested chronology of the events related to the Scythians’ presence in the Near East looks as follows:
624/623 – 613/612 BC – war between Miletus and Lydia (peace treaty in the reign of Thrasybulus – tyrant of Miletus, and Alyattes – king of Lydia);
615/614 BC – flight of “the rebel Scythians” from Media from King Cyaxares to Lydia to King Alyattes (before the war between Media and Lydia);
616/615 – 614/613 BC – the foundation of the city of Istria by the Milesians in the West Pontic area;
613 – 608 BC – presence of the Scythians of King Madyas in the North Pontic area;
614/613 – 608 BC – war between Media and Lydia (Cyaxares and Alyattes);
February 13, 608 BC – solar eclipse and the end of the Median-Lydian conflict;
May – September, 608 BC – seige and crush of Nineveh by Nebopiliser, King of Babylon, and Cyaxares, King of Media;
Summer – autumn of 608 BC – the Scythians of King Madyas leave the North Pontic area;
September, 608 BC – the Scythians of King Madyas invade Media, Cyaxares’ defeat, military expedition of the Scythians to Egypt;
608/607 BC – foundation of the city of Borysthenes by the Milesians in the North Pontic area;
608 – 585 BC – stay of the Scythians of King Madyas in “Upper Asia”, their excesses;
May 28, 585 BC – solar Eclipse;
Summer – autumn of 585 BC – the Scythians of King Madyas killed at a feast by Cyaxares and expelled from Asia; war against “the slaves’ sons” in the region from the Taurus Mountains to the Maeotis Lake, construction of the Kelermes cemetery;
April 28, 509 BC – solar eclipse, Darius’ expedition to Scythia.


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